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Despite being delayed for five months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Miss Universe 2021 finally went ahead this weekend in Eilat, Israel, and saw Miss India snag the prestigious crown.
According to People, 21-year-old Harnaaz Sandhu beat out 79 other contestants to claim the title, including runner-ups Miss Paraguay and Miss South Africa.
The event was also a historic one, marking the first time a contestant from the United Arab Emirates has ever appeared in a Miss Universe pageant and the first time in over four decades a contestant from Morocco has competed.
Miss Universe 2021 also saw the return of Steve Harvey, who last hosted the event in 2019.
According to People, Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov revealed how thrilled he was to welcome the Miss Universe contest to Israel and hopes the event will inspire tourism to restart in the country.
“Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic placed in our path, we knew how to maintain the balance between health and the economy, to bring tourism back to Israel,” Razvozov said in a statement reported by People. “We needed to create tourism anchors that will promote and present Israel to the world as a vaccination nation that invites tourists to visit. The Miss Universe pageant is, without doubt, an important and significant anchor of this plan.”